Industry group says SCO cannot alter old licences

An open-source group has filed a complaint in Australia that accuses SCO of trying to change licences previously granted for Linux

An open-source industry group has filed a new complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against controversial software company the SCO Group, saying the vendor is attempting to alter previously granted licences.

Open Source Victoria (OSV) -- an industry cluster -- has expressed concern that the recently announced licences allegedly validating companies' use of Linux, an operating system SCO that claims infringes its intellectual property, imply that earlier licences provided by the software company are no longer valid.

"SCO has already licensed different versions of the Linux kernel to consumers and resellers and now appears to be saying those licenses are not effective according to their plain terms," said OSV member Brendan Scott. He pointed out the complaint put to the ACCC is not dependent on whether SCO's claims of copyright infringement are legally proven, and the ACCC can therefore act without waiting for the outcome of the court cases.

The new licence is aimed at users who are contemplating supplying the software provided by SCO to third parties, according to OSV, which claimed it was not an uncommon practice for acquirers of a Linux kernel to supply that kernel to others as part of a service offering. If the licence that SCO granted them at the time was ineffective, OSV fears that both the licence holders and anyone they have supplied the kernel to could be affected.

OSV said it had expressed the view that if SCO had previously offered to license versions 2.2 and 2.4 of the Linux kernel on the terms of the general public licence -- which grants the licensee specific rights with regards to supplying the software to another party -- then:

  • SCO should be required to be held to those licence terms in respect of existing licensees. Those licences should be declared to be valid and effective.
  • Where a consumer acquired a copy of the relevant Linux kernels from SCO prior to the commencement of SCO's SCOSource initiative, then that consumer should be entitled to the grant of a licence by SCO on terms which are of the same effect as the GPL.
  • Any marketing conducted by SCO in relation to its SCOSource initiative should explicitly state that existing licensees of OpenLinux and SCOLinux products are not required to acquire any additional licences and that such existing licences are valid and enforceable according to their terms.
  • SCO should correct its existing advertisements and advertise those corrections.
  • SCO was unavailable for comment at the time of publication. For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.